It wasn’t until I spent a few years working in South Carolina that I learned how truly delicious a peach could be.
Gaffney, South Carolina is known for its peaches, and each summer, we’d book someone from there to be a guest on the morning newscast I anchored. I’d sit and smile and pretend to be interested in Gaffney’s annual peach festival and its accompanying tractor pull, beauty pageant, and dog show– but all I was really interested in was getting my hands on the bushel of peaches our guest brought with him each year. If you could have tasted one of those peaches, you’d understand why.
Biting into a Gaffney peach was like being embraced by a peach-scented angel. These peaches were ridiculously sweet with a gentle tart kick, and so juicy that you couldn’t bite into one without making a complete mess of yourself. All of the supermarket peaches I’d eaten over the years were mere black and white copies compared to the tree-to-mouth technicolor taste bombs that came from Gaffney.
This is why I got so excited a few days ago when I saw the first peach truck on the side of the road. Despite the heat shimmering off the pavement, I pulled over immediately and rolled down the windows, ignoring the moans of my children in the backseat.
“Picked this morning on the Alabama border,” the peach man told me proudly when I got to his truck. He cut a slice of peach for me with his pocket knife, then took slices to the kids in the car. Once they tasted the peaches for themselves, the complaining stopped.
Local peaches are just different. They don’t even have to be from Gaffney- They just have to be fresh off the tree and perfectly ripe. The peaches I bought on the roadside still had a few days to go before they reached their peak, but I just put them in brown lunch bags when I got home and checked them each morning. Yesterday, they were ready to go — And that could only mean one thing–
PEACH COBBLER FOR DESSERT!
Having grown up in Georgia, I can say that I am a peach cobbler connoisseur. I’ve tasted at least a hundred different variations and it took me a long time to get the recipe to my liking. For one thing, I only make peach cobbler now during peach season, using peaches from a farmer’s market or roadside stand. For another, I believe the crust of a cobbler is just as important as the fruit beneath it. Too many cobblers skimp on the crust, which leads to a soupy fruit mess– and a bunch of people fighting over the little bit of cake-like bread on top.
So, if you’re a crust girl like me, you’ll love this recipe. The bread on top is thick, moist and delicious and it soaks up just enough of the peach juice to give the whole cobbler a lovely consistency. Top portions off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’ll end up with a memorable summer dessert that’s bound to become an annual family tradition.
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2cups sugar, divided
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4 cups sliced peaches (I strongly suggest fresh peaches, but use canned if you have to.)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ground cinammon (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. While preheating, melt butter in a 8×10 inch baking dish or 2 quart casserole dish in the oven. Make sure the butter doesn’t get too brown while in the oven.
2. Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, stir just until combined.
3. Pour batter over melted butter.
4. Combine peaches, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. Heat to boiling while stirring constantly. Pour peach mixture over batter. Sprinkle with cinnamon. (Note: If you’re using canned peaches, use the syrup from the can and add just 1/3 cup of sugar to the peach/vanilla/lemon mixture. No need to boil it.)
5. Cook at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, or until crust is browned.
Serve your cobbler in bowls and top it with ice cream (my favorite- I love the juxtaposition of hot and cold) or whipped cream. You can also serve it cold. It’s delicious both ways.
*I don’t peel my peaches before putting them into my cobbler, but if you want to, the easiest way is to bring water in a saucepan to a boil, turn off the heat, and add your peaches. Let them sit in the water for one minute, then remove them and put them in ice water. Once they’ve cooled, the skins will slip right off and you can slice them after that.